News On the Menu
People base their opinions and attitudes on information they gather from media coverage. Hence any organization, group or government that influences the media holds a lot of power. In the early years of our modern society, censorship protected the king and church from criticism. The US Constitution (1783) strongly opposed this, as did the Norwegian Constitution (1814).
Under Barack Obama, the current president, a new drive towards health reform will be staged. Controlling the media will be vital to its success.
The media can influence opinions in many more ways than through ads and commercials. Who the journalists interview, which topics they cover, what their angle is, and who they contact are just a few of the factors that may bring a strong bias to a media presentation.
Generally speaking, it is the wealthy, well-established and well-educated who are most likely to have his/her views aired on a news channel. But there are also many political and environmental groups based on big grassroots movements like Greenpeace and WWF that get media attention. The picture is, as always, a bit more complex than at first sight.
Good questions to ask oneself when assessing information are these: Who is behind the information being presented, what is their intention and who may benefit from it being presented?
Tasks and Activities
Compare News CoverageLook at media coverage of the ongoing drug wars in Mexico. Check various news stations/channels (e.g. the Huffington Post, the New York times, the Washington Post, CNN, Forbes, NPR, the Guardian and BBC and Al Jazeera) and how they cover the drug wars. For each news station, make a list of key words describing their angle or approach.
How may the coverage of a local school issue vary according to who you ask, as well as what type of questions you ask? Write a news article on a local school issue, in which you interview at least two people from your school. Compare articles afterwards with a fellow student, and discuss how these factors may have influenced your angle.
Find examples of big grassroots movements, other than Greenpeace and WWF, that get a lot of media attention.
- Why do wealthy, well-educated people get more attention than the average person?
- What differences in approach and angle did you discover when checking the news coverage of the Mexican drug wars?
- ENGLISH – PROGRAMME SUBJECT IN PROGRAMMES FOR SPECIALIZATION IN GENERAL STUDIES
- English subject curriculum
- evaluate and use suitable listening and speaking strategies adapted for the purpose and the situation
- understand the main content and details of different types of oral texts about general and academic topics related to one’s education programme
- present and discuss current news items from English language sources